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Sticky Websites: 10 Tips to Keep Prospects On Your Site

They walked in the door, now make them take their coats off.  Many companies invest in advertising, marketing and search engine optimization, only to have prospects arrive at a confusing website and abandon their efforts.  Here are ten tips that will lead your prospects to the information they seek and increase conversion:

  1. Carry Your Marketing Messages to Your Website

    If you're using different designers for your website and other marketing materials, communication is key to ensuring your brand and key messages are cohesive and fully supported. Your website is part of your overall marketing initiatives and should not “stand alone.” A consistent message across all mediums builds confidence and trust in business prospects. The website is a powerful way to reinforce your other marketing and sales efforts and a tool to ultimately help sign that new client.
  1. Greet Visitors at the Door

    When a visitor arrives at your website, you have only seconds to make an impression and convince them to stay. A new visitor should immediately know where you are, who you are and what you do. A good tagline or short introductory message can help give users a quick and succinct sense of the products or services you provide.
  1. Know Your Visitors and Guide them Well

    A good website is constructed with the visitor in mind. You may have more than one type of audience and you should build your navigation around how they may use your site. For example, you may sell a service that you promote on your site, but you also may be using your site to recruit qualified employees. Organize the content on your site to suit each type of user by creating paths that direct them appropriately.
  1. Navigation – Simplify and Organize

    Including a large number of links on the home page makes it difficult to find particular information. If your site is large, simplify the navigation by organizing your content into larger categories that you then can subcategorize. This helps guide users along a path of interest to them. 

    You can also create multiple menus, organized by function and place them on the page in different areas. For example, create one menu across the top of the page for “Contact Us,” "About Us" and "Home," and a separate menu along the side of the page for the services or products you provide.
  1. Speak your Visitor's Language

    Avoid using industry jargon or “cute” names for your navigation menu items. In order to help your visitors find what they are looking for, use button names that are clear and understandable.
  1. Write for the Web

    Site visitors don’t read on the web the way they read in print. Users scan information and then click items of interest to them. Keep content short and to the point on your main pages, but offer more information on subsequent pages for when a user decides to click.
  1. Design Should be Supportive, not Intrusive

    Design pages to support your message and goal. You don’t need to fill every space with content. White space helps to guide the user’s eye to the important information that you WANT them to see.
  1. Avoid Gratuitous Images

    Images and photographs should help to support your messages and should never be used just to fill space. Images that move will draw the user’s eye, so use them carefully. If your spinning logo is drawing them away from your message, then you’ve lost an opportunity.
  1. Real Estate – Location is Everything

    Users typically scan a web page in a predictable way. Usually, this follows an “F” shaped pattern. Starting at the top left of the page, they scan across, then move down the page a little lower and read across the page from left to right, then down the left side of the page. Leverage this knowledge to place content on the page so that important messages are seen in this initial scan.
  1. Splash Pages – Just Don’t!

    A splash page is the page that pops up before the home page of a site. It usually has the company logo and an ENTER button. Often these pages are built in Flash and may contain music and movement. Even with a “skip intro” button, these pages serve no purpose other than to entertain the site’s owners. There are very few instances when splash pages are helpful. These pages just prevent the site visitor from getting to the information they are looking for. They also keep your site away from search engine rankings, as they usually contain very little or no content that the search engines can see.

The most important thing is to put yourself in your visitor’s shoes. They are looking for a website that can deliver the information they seek quickly and clearly. With these guidelines, you can provide a helpful and memorable experience for your visitors that will make them want to do business with you. At this rate, not only will they take their coats off, but they’ll stay for coffee too!